1 May 2020

1) The numbers are in for the weekly jobless claims, with another 3.84 million people losing their jobs. This brings the total to over 30 million in the past six weeks. Expectations were for about 3 million, so the news was not upsetting. The claims peaked at 6.87 million so officials feel the worst is over with declines each week since, but still this has been the worst employment crisis in U.S. history. While some states are starting to bring their economies back on line, much of the key American infrastructure remains on lockdown. Predictions are for the second quarter to decline worse than anything America has ever seen. The unemployment rate is anticipated to be about 15.1%.

2) The crash of the oil market continues across the globe, with the American shale or fracking oil industry being hit the hardest. The shale oil industry had been fueled by lots of easy money, almost unlimited borrowing allowing companies to dramatically ramp up production, despite what the market demand was. Many companies had been in trouble before the coronavirus hit, and that combined with the Russian and Saudi Arabia oil dispute, oil prices have dropped by three-quarters since early January. There is $43 billion dollars of energy junk bond defaults coming in 2020 with hundreds of oil companies facing bankruptcy. The problem isn’t just American, with Shell Oil Co. announcing a cut in their dividends for the first time since World War II. Finally, the pandemic appears to be making fundamental changes to the oil market and consumption so the oil market may never fully recover.

3) The virus pandemic has adversely affected more than just traditional businesses, large and small. Dirty money from the illegal drug business is piling up in Los Angeles because the money laundering systems has also been put on hold by ‘closing orders’ of non-essential businesses. The businesses used by the drug trade to launder their money have been forced to close up, thereby ceasing operations leaving the drug dealers with growing stacks of cash that cant be used until cleaned.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 APR 20:

Dow 24,345.72 down 288.14
Nasdaq 8,889.55 down 25.16
S&P 500 2,912.43 down 27.08

10 Year Yield: down at 0.62%

Oil: up at $18.64

14 April 2020

1) The auto industry, already reeling from the new car shutdown and depressed demand, is now concerned about a possible used car price collapse, which could have far reaching effects across the economy. The used vehicle auctions are now virtually paralyzed, the same as the rest of the country, with vehicles piling up at places where buyers and sellers bid on cars and trucks, a situation which cannot go on for months. This is creating a huge level of wholesale supply in the market as inventories continue to expand. This will cause fiscal problems for in-house lending divisions, lease contracts and car rental companies from falling car values. Used car sales fell 64% in the last week of March with prices falling an estimated 10%. The auto makers credit companies are taking huge losses and looking for ways to take advantage of asset backed securities market. With car rentals way down, rental companies are fearful of having to raise cash by selling off inventory when prices are way down.

2) Mr. Neel Kashkari, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, was on ‘Face the Nation’ television show last Sunday, considers the U.S. may be facing an 18 month shutdown based on what is happening in other countries. Fearing flare-ups, America may face shutdowns until an effective vaccine or therapy is found.

3) Economists fear poor recovery, with high unemployment through 2021, despite the trillions of dollars in cash and loans from the Federal Reserve. Nevertheless, the massive effort is likely to leave millions of additional Americans unemployed for an extended time with unemployment not just spiking, but remaining for the next year. Unemployment may jump up to 20% in the coming months then coming down into the single digit range. It’s expected that a lot of people will not be getting their jobs back as the economy shifts and reforms itself. The more specialized a design, the more brittle it is.

4) Stock market closings for – 13 APR 20:

Dow 23,390.77 down 328.60
Nasdaq 8,192.42 up 38.85
S&P 500 2,761.63 down 28.19

10 Year Yield: down at 0.75%

Oil: down at $22.71

2 March 2020

1) The stock markets continue their downward crash over worries of the conronavirus impact on economies making the week the worst week since the financial crisis. Caterpillar, a bellwether stock for global growth, slide down 3%, the worst performer among Dow stocks. Apple dropped 2.9% while Chevron and Cisco Systems are down more than 2%. Investors are worried the downward slide may continue after the conronavirus subsides, especially if China doesn’t return to its previous position, so recovery could be a long haul.

2) The sale of smartphones is collapsing in China, which is the largest market in the world. The plunged in sales is directly due to the coronavirus outbreak. Chinese companies had skidded to a halt, with the accelerated outbreak last month a result of quarantine mandates, travel restrictions and factory shutdowns. Huawei, the Chinese tech company, is being hit hard because it is the top selling smartphone in China.

3) Gold prices have been acting strangely with the reversals in the markets because of coronavirus fears. Traditionally, gold has been a ‘panic investment’ that investors flee to when there’s economic uncertainty, but this time investors are selling gold to generate cash. They are fleeing anything priced via bidding, for safer assets such as treasury bonds, which in turn is driving down bond interest rates. This indicates how worried the professional investors are about the world economic system.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 FEB 20:

Dow 25,409.36 down 357.28
Nasdaq 8,567.37 up 0.89
S&P 500 2,954.22 down 24.54

10 Year Yield: down at 1.13%

Oil: down at $45.26

28 January 2020

1) The threat of coronavirus spreading has caused stock markets to sharply fall over fears of the virus’ impact on the world economy. The death toll in China has risen to 81, and a fifth case has occurred in America. With China the biggest driver of global growth, the virus started in the place where it could have the biggest impact. There are worries that this virus caused market dip could spark a major correction in the markets.

2) General Motors plans to go all electric at its Detroit Hamtramck plant starting next year. GM is committing a $2.2 billion dollar investment in the factory to include $800 million dollars on tooling and projects related to trucks. The plant will be GM’s second builder of plugin models of cars. Only Tesla has sold electric cars in significant volume so far. The Hamtramck plant will employ 2,200 workers.

3) With the Federal Reserve’s bond portfolio swelling at a pace not seen since the 2010s, the Feds are faced with the tricky maneuver of turning the tap off soon. A misstep could have painful consequences, with the risk of what happens when the Feds stops increasing their balance sheet. Questions arise over what will happen to the stock markets when that liquidity spigot closes. This is part of the process called quantitative easing.

4) Stock market closings for – 27 JAN 20: The spread of coronavirus pushes markets down.

Dow               28,535.80    down    453.93
Nasdaq            9,139.31    down    175.60
S&P 500           3,243.63    down      51.84

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.60%

Oil:    down   at    $52.83

20 January 2020

1) A year ago, Boeing Aircraft had record revenues of over $100 billion dollars, anticipating delivery of record number of aircraft including the 737 MAX jetliner. With the grounding of its 737 MAX, that has been reversed with Boeing posting losses from massive pay outs as well as lost revenues as undelivered aircraft sit waiting in its parking lots. Boeing may ultimately have $20 billion dollars in cost from the 737 MAX problem. Boeing’s problems has been a bonus for China’s airline manufacturing giving them a big advantage to gain market share.

2) India is resisting Amazon’s efforts to expand into India with an investment of $1 billion dollars, fearful of predatory business practices. The investment would bring Amazon India investment up to $6.5 billion dollars. But Amazon is meeting growing resistance, first with an Indian anti-trust investigation by Indian regulators, then protest from a confederation of Indian traders and organizations.

3) As hiring surged in November, the employment market got tighter, job openings plunged to their lowest level in nearly two years. The total vacancies is down by 561,000 to 6.8 million for the month. This is the lowest since February of 2018, the trend telling the economy has finally reached full employment. The biggest drops came in retail and construction.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 JAN 20: All three exchanges closed on record highs.

Dow          29,348.10    up    50.46
Nasdaq       9,388.94    up    31.81
S&P 500      3,329.62    up     12.81

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.84%

Oil:    up   at    $58.81

31 December 2019

1) The automaker of electric cars Tesla has made its first deliveries of their Model 3 that were manufactured in China. The gigafactory in Shanghai is Tesla’s first outside the U.S., which is expected to significantly boost Tesla sales in China, which Tesla considers will become its largest market for the Model 3. Production will soon be 1,000 cars a week, eventually reaching an annual production of 150,000 a year.

2) The national average price for gasoline increased by 1.6 cents to $2.57 a gallon. Gas prices had been dropping for seven consecutive weeks prior to the upswing. The price increase is a result of the drop in oil inventories while oil prices are above $61 a barrel. Gas prices are above $3 a gallon in Hawaii, California, Nevada, Alaska and Washington, while Missouri, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana are the five states with the lowest priced gas states.

3) Vietnam is switching from producing and selling raw robusta beans on the commodity markets, to producing instant coffee for the burgeoning Asian market. Instant coffee brings more profit with less risk while also bringing protection from large swings in international commodity prices. Vietnam aims to overtake Nestle as Vietnam’s biggest pure instant coffee supplier in the next five years, and doubling its coffee exports to $6 billion dollars a year.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 DEC 19:

Dow              28,462.14    down   183.12
Nasdaq           8,945.99    down     60.62
S&P 500          3,221.29    down     18.73

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.90%

Oil:    down   at    $61.68

20 November 2019

1) There are fewer international students coming to America, which is hurting American universities and the economy. International student enrollment has been declining since the fall of 2016 which is estimated to cost the economy $11.8 billion dollars and more than 65,000 jobs. There is a perception among students that getting a visa for the United States is more difficult and it’s increasingly unsafe in the U.S.

2) National retailer Kohl’s posted quarterly sales that was lower than analysts’ projections, and has fallen the most in almost three years. This raises further concerns about the future of department stores, a market segment that has been struggling to adapt to broad changes in consumer habits. Kohl’s shares fell as much as 18%, the biggest one day tumble since January of 2017. Other department store chains such as Macy’s and Nordstrom have seen declines too.

3) Home Depot shares fell after reporting a third quarter earnings below Wall Street expectations, and the company cut its full year outlook for the rest of 2019. Like so many other traditional retailers, Home Depot is struggling to adapt to the online market place. While they are spending a lot of money to become a bigger online player, the company hasn’t seen the results they expected. The home improvement retail landscape is getting tougher.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 NOV 19:

Dow                27,934.02   down   102.20
Nasdaq            8,570.66          up     20.72
S&P 500           3,120.18    down        1.85

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.79%

Oil:     down   at    $55.15

19 November 2019

1) The bond trading has gone from zero to $88 billion dollars in two years because of technology enabled portfolio trading that brings the same speed to the bond market as for stock traders. Bond trading used to take hours of pen and paper work, but now the same thing only requires seconds to do electronically. Most trades are between $100 million and $200 million dollars. The rate of change in the bond market these last few years has been stunning.

2) The struggling company WeWorks announced it plans to lay off at least 4,000 people, roughly one third of its 12,500 work force, a part of its five year plan for recovery from near bankruptcy. But some analyst WeWorks financial troubles come form its failed IPO (Initial Public Offering) in September which left the company with massive losses of $1.25 billion dollars.

3) The board of directors for HP has unanimously rejected the take over bid from Xerox, which they considers significantly undervalues HP and therefore isn’t in the best interest of its shareholders. The board also had concerns about the impact of outsize debt which could devalue the merged company. News has sent stocks for both companies down. HP does recognize the potential benefits of consolidation and therefore remains open to exploring future mergers. Both companies are in the process of cost cutting programs with HP laying off up to 9,000 workers.

4) Stock market closings for – 18 NOV 19:

Dow                 28,036.22    up    31.33 
Nasdaq              8,549.94    up       9.11
S&P 500             3,122.03    up       1.57

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.81%

Oil:    down   at    $56.94

8 November 2019

1) Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, says he’s happy to pay his share of taxes, but expressed consternation over Elizabeth Warren’s proposals to tax America’s wealthy. He considers the presidential hopeful is not very open minded to consider his concerns. Warren’s wealth tax proposal is 2% annual levy on household wealth above $50 million dollars with an additional 1% tax on wealth above $1 billion dollars. She estimates this would cover 75,000 tax payers raising $2.6 to $2.75 trillion dollars over a ten years.

2) Stores are starting their Black Friday sales earlier this year, in part because the holiday shopping season is six days shorter. Retailer Target will begin online Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving morning, with stores opening their doors at 5 p.m. and remaining open through 1 a.m. the next day. On Black Friday, their stores open at 7 a.m.. Other retailers such as Walmart started their holiday shopping season last October.

3) Xerox is offering HP a takeover bid of $22 per share. The bid consists of 77% cash and 23% stock which would be $17 in cash and 0.137 Xerox shares for each HP share. If accepted, the deal would generate about $2 billion dollars in cost synergies with HP stock holders owning 48% of the company. HP has announced job cuts between 7,000 and 9,000 by the end of fiscal 2022. HP is worth $29 billion dollars and is more than three times the size of Xerox in terms of market cap.

4) Stock market closings for – 7 NOV 19:

Dow                 27,674.80    up    182.24
Nasdaq              8,434.52    up      23.89
S&P 500             3,085.18    up        8.40

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.93%

Oil:    up   at    $57.07

29 August 2019

1) Threat of a ‘no deal’ Brexit has the British pound falling relative to the US dollar and euro. The new British prime minister Boris Johnson announced the annual suspension of Parliament would be extended until 14 October, just two weeks before the UK is set to leave the European Union. This suspension is considered a move to block a no-deal Brexit within the UK parliament.

2) If General Motor exits from China, it will mean billions of dollars of profit lost. President Trump’s threatening order for American business to leave China would leave GM the hardest hit of the big three American automakers. While most of GM’s profits comes from North America, it makes about 43% of it annual auto sales in China. This would also mean the loss of all future growth potential, leaving it almost a North American only company, since GM has sold off its European operations.

3) The international gold market is falling prey to a forgery crisis. Gold bars are being stamped with logos of major refineries which makes them of questionable purity. These fake bars are being used as a means to launder cash money or trafficking illegally mined gold. The fakes became apparent when gold bars were found with identical serial numbers. In 2017 and 2018 there were 655 forged bars reported. Gold Kilobars are the most common form of gold in circulation and are worth about $50,000 each

4) Stock market closings for – 28 AUG 19:

Dow                26,036.10    up    258.20
Nasdaq             7,856.88    up      29.94
S&P 500            2,887.94    up      18.78

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.47%

Oil:    up   at    $55.90